Revitalizing traditional crops and recipes, and working to develop local food systems.

  • Popayán, Colombia
  • Partner since 2016
  • 1,400 indigenous families
COMEPCAFE Paisaje

COMEPCAFE is a coffee cooperative in the northern mountains of Cauca, Colombia. Communities are remote and spread out, and like many coffee-farming communities, the  majority of the organization’s indigenous members struggle with food insecurity. The cooperative has very limited resources for crucial development work to overcome this systemic problem. 

We began working with COMEPCAFE in 2016, co-designing our food security program with this organization to reflect their desire to implement a variety of strategies, including the creation of home gardens, participation in farmers’ markets, recruiting and training new community promoters, and revitalizing traditional crop production and recipes.  

The Opportunity

Our 2016 baseline study showed that 28% of families could not cover their basic food needs. COMPECAFE families live on an average net income from coffee of about $1.31 per person per day, well below the Global Poverty Line of $1.90. Lack of sufficient income from coffee, paired with limited access to healthy food, has created a challenge for these farmers and their families.

COMEPCAFE Marcela Training

The Diagnosis 

Together, we decided to create food security strategies that could be phased in over time and gradually expanded as the co-op establishes a solid foundation of success and engagement. We started out with home gardens for 200 families in the Agua Negra community, where they are now producing healthy, fresh food for their families and neighbors. 

Here are some of the components of the program: 

  • Educational workshops for families on the components of food security and good nutrition 
  • Bean and maize production
  • Creation of a farmers’ market to promote traditional foods
  • Training of young community promoters who support families directly
  • Water management systems for home gardens

By 2018, the number of families unable to cover basic food needs decreased from 28% to 15%. Given the success of this program, COMEPCAFE added a new group of 150 families in Morales, a community several hours away from Agua Negra. The goal is to eventually roll out the program to COMEPCAFE’s  remaining members.

Community Highlight: Juana Maria Pechene of  Agua Negra

When the project first began, Juana Maria told us she used to have a garden, but was never able to make it reach its full potential. Thanks to the knowledge and support she received from the program, her garden is now thriving. It’s larger than ever and active year-round. She’s also able to save money because she doesn’t have to buy vegetables. What she loves most is the camaraderie she’s developed with other participants, and feels that she can count on her community for support with her agricultural activities.